Another glorious Belgian strong dark ale from the folks at Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, New York. This beer pours quite nearly black, and there’s a light, fizzy head that has some decent staying power and imparts a slightly resinous bitter taste. The nose is distinctively Belgian, with yeasty notes of sour fruit and bread. The middle is rich and heavy, with cherries and plums, bitter cocoa and the slightest hint of espresso. The finish is balanced bitterness with some sweet malt and tart fruit. There’s more bitterness in this ale than I usually find in Belgian strong dark ales, but as a fan of IBUs, I’m not complaining, and it’s got every bit of the complexity that I expect and love in this style. This is a really nice beer.
The last style in this back of Sierra Nevada Beer Camp brews that I’ve been reviewing off and on for the previous few weeks is an imperial red ale. My first impression is that it’s more imperial than red. Held up to the light, there is a deep and dark red hue to to the body. The head is big and thick and meringue-like, and immediately gives away the huge hoppy profile. The head tastes like pine and grapefruit. The scent is of citrus and toasted malt. The middle is bitter, with lots of pine and some caramel. The finish is on the fruity side, with grapefruit and plums, along with some pine resin to keep it bitter right at the end. It’s a medium body beer, and crisp, and reminds me a lot of a west coast IPA with a twist from the extra malt. It’s really quite nice, and just behind the Oatmeal Stout for my favorite of the bunch.
I was quite intrigued by the Widmer Brothers Brewing Alchemy Project’s 2012 version of a Raspberry Russian Imperial Stout, so I decided to try it out tonight. My first impression is that this is a big, dry, bitter imperial stout, so doubt about it. The head is heavy and creamy, and nose is rich with roasted malt and chocolate. When it hit my tongue, I was surprised by how dry it is. There’s a hint of tartness more than sweetness from the berries, and more as it warms, but the first big flavors are of earth and coffee. There’s a nice round finish with just a little bit of tart and bitter balanced, and a bit of alcohol throughout. The body is medium to heavy, and it’s a pretty big beer at 9.3% ABV. It was a nice twist on what’s really a good solid imperial stout without overwhelming it, or turning it into a fruit beer. I really like it a lot.
Another wacky dark ale from Dogfish Head tonight. Raison D’Être is a Belgian style ale brewed with Belgian sugars and raisins, of course. The nose is of sweet fruit and bread. The body is heavy and sticky, and the middle is sweet malt and intense grape flavors from the raisins. I didn’t used to be a fan of Raison D’Être, but it’s grown quite a bit on me. It isn’t as wonderfully complex as some of the traditional Belgian ales, but it’s a nice quirky ale, very heavy on the sweet and malty side of the scale, and a fun beer.
The description first. This has a thick, dense head. There are oats and chocolate, and a hint of coffee in the nose. Next is a heavy, creamy middle with vanilla, brown sugar and alcohol, finally leading to a super smooth syrupy finish. I’m a big fan of the mellowness of oatmeal stouts, and though this is a particularly big one (at 9% ABV) it still pulls it off nicely, though it’s nearly overpowered by the alcohol right in the middle. This is a really nice dessert beer.
Tonight’s brew is an oak-aged Imperial Barley Wine style ale from Southern Tier Brewing in Georgia. This is a big (9.6% ABV) heavy beer, perfect for a cool night. The nose has sweet with raisins and yeasty, smelling faintly of runny blue cheese. The middle is sweet and malty, rich with fruit and toffee. and the finish is vanilla from the oak and just a bit of warmth from the alcohol. I’m not a connoisseur of barley wine ales (yet) but this is certainly a nice big beer for a cool autumn (or winter) night.
Hop Head Red is what Green Flash Brewing Co. of San Diego, Ca calls Red IPA. The head is light and fluffy, and the scent is deceptively sweet, with pine and some caramel. I say deceptively, because the flavor is massively bitter, heavy with pine resin in the middle, and some citrus in the finish. This is definitely has a bit more richness and depth than their standard IPA which lends nicely to the red ale character, but I’d have liked it better if they’d toned down the bite a bit.